Leap of faith for the fire survivors

THRILLED to have her feet firmly on the ground after plunging head first from a bridge linking two cooling towers and dangling upside down for a few seconds, Mittah Lebaka stood transfixed with her hands covering her face before letting out a sigh of relief.

THRILLED to have her feet firmly on the ground after plunging head first from a bridge linking two cooling towers and dangling upside down for a few seconds, Mittah Lebaka stood transfixed with her hands covering her face before letting out a sigh of relief.

"I thought I was going to die up there. It was breathtaking, literally," she said to squeals of laughter and cheers from her friends.

Lebaka, a volunteer at charity organisation Children of Fire, was one of seven burn survivors who bungee-jumped from the top of the 100m tall Orlando Towers in Soweto on Friday.

"It is the craziest thing I have ever done," Lebaka said.

This despite abseiling in the Drakensberg four times last year and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - Africa's highest mountain - in 2007.

Lebaka said she took part in such daredevil acts to prove that burn survivors can do anything they set their minds on.

"Climbing Kilimanjaro was part of a healing process. People will limit your capabilities because of the way you look. I wanted to shatter the myth and mix with other burn survivors," Lebaka said.

She suffered burns to her neck and upper body when she was eight years old.

Fursy Mugobe, 19, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the jump had boosted his self-confidence.

"It was my first time and I enjoyed it. When I set my mind on achieving a certain goal I will in future do it with courage and determination. I now have a better understanding of who I am and what I am capable of doing," Fursy said.

Emily Coppel of Children of Fire said the experience was part of an excursion organised by the organisation for young burn survivors from around the world to boost their confidence.

"It is common for individuals without disfigurement to believe that our burnt children cannot achieve something great," she said.

The excursion included seven teenagers from South Africa, Tunisia and Taiwan.

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